At the start of John Wick: Chapter Three: Parabellum, John Wick has exactly one hour before a $14 million bounty on his head goes into effect. So, naturally, he heads to the public library. This being the world of John Wick, things don’t exactly go smoothly, but it did make some of us here at EVPL wonder about other libraries that made it to the big screen. What follows is a short and absolutely non-definitive list.
Alice isn’t exactly the best librarian on the list—she conforms to some pretty outdated stereotypes, like shushing patrons; plus she’s a ghost—but her sweet floating figure flipping through a book in the stacks of New York Public Library’s main branch is still part of one of the most iconic opening scenes in a movie of all time.
The Audrey Hepburn classic has not one but two great library scenes! And sure, at first, Holly Golightly doesn’t think that the library (New York Public, again) is nearly half as nice as Tiffany’s, but she comes around by the end. It’s where Paul knows to find her to tell her he loves her. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly their happy ending quite yet, but they are still some pretty swoon-worthy scenes.
While we certainly believe there are all kinds of treasures to be found at the library, we don’t exactly condone smashing up the floors to find them. Luckily, Indy is right and X really does mark the spot. Bonus points are given to the quick shots of ever increasingly puzzled librarian who just wants to stamp his books!
A ten-year old boy named Richard, terrified of the world, slips on a wet floor in the library, gets knocked out by the fall, and wakes up in an animated world where The Pagemaster, Keeper of the Books and Guardian of the Written Word, introduces him to anthropomorphic books named Adventure, Fantasy, and Horror (a grotesque “hunchbook”). Richard and his new friends must face a series of ever-more unfortunate events (Moby-Dick attacks the group; Long John Silver’s crew almost commits mutiny on Treasure Island; a dragon exists) but the most terrifying moment of all just might be when we learn Richard’s local library has a two-book loan limit!!! Egads.
When in doubt, go to the library. My personal favorite library scene in the Harry Potter series is the classic middle of the night escapade into the restricted section, under the Invisibility Cloak. But honestly, you can make a case for them all.
The love story between Belle and the Beast is…fine. But the love story between Belle and her books? In a word, epic. The Beast giving Belle a library is one of the most heart-stoppingly romantic scenes to ever be put to screen, and it set unrealistic expectations for an entire generation of book-lovers everywhere.
It turns out the library at Sunnydale High is sitting on the Hellmouth, and two-headed demons occasionally emerge from it. But it is also the place where the much-loved Scoobies hang out, prep for battle, and even occasionally study for class. It is everything we want our high school libraries to be.